Pioneer moments: She could not let go

Rachel Fielding, 9, walked barefooted most of the way from Winter Quarters to the Salt Lake Valley.

Her parents, Joseph and Hannah Greenwood Fielding, had two oxen, two cows and one horse. Her father used the two oxen to pull one wagon with the horse in front as a spike team, and the two cows to pull another wagon. Rachel's mother and aunty drove one team and her father drove the other wagon.Soon after they started the journey the harness on the horse broke and Rachel had to walk ahead, leading the horse by the bridle. This was "rather difficult sometimes on the rough roads for the horse stepped on my heels so often that it kept them sore," Rachel later wrote.

When they arrived at Big Mountain, near the Salt Lake Valley, Rachel's mother and aunty were walking behind the first wagon with her father. Her brother, Joseph, and sister, Mary, were in the wagon and Rachel was leading the horse as usual.

The descent from the mountain "looked long and rather steep" but Rachel started down without waiting for advice. "When we got started down, however, the hill seemed worse than I thought, for the wagon pushed the oxen and the oxen hooked the horse and it kept stepping on my heels, and I had to run," she wrote.

"The people at the bottom were very much alarmed and shouted, `That child will be killed! That child will be killed!"'

The wagon, Rachel and the children reached the bottom of the hill safely.

"I would not think of letting go of that bridle because the children were in the wagon," she wrote. "My feet were dreadfully cut and bruised and my footsteps could be traced for some distance by the blood." (Source: Rachel Fielding's autobiographical sketch, LDS Church Archives)

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